How Long After a Hit and Run Accident Can You Be Charged?
You can be charged up to one year or three years after a hit and run accident depending on the severity of the accident.
The statute of limitations refers to how long a prosecutor has to file charges against you after a crime. In cases of hit and run car accidents, the statute of limitations varies based on if the accident was a misdemeanor or a felony. For a misdemeanor hit and run, meaning an accident with minor property damage, the prosecution has up to one year to file charges. For a felony hit and run, or an accident that caused injury to another person, the prosecution has up to three years to file.
If you were injured in a hit and run accident it’s vital that you consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Hit and run car accidents can lead to severe injuries and it’s important that you understand your options.
Table of Contents
What is a hit and run car accident?
A hit and run car accident is when someone is in an accident with a fixed object, another car, or a pedestrian and then leaves the scene without leaving any identification or checking to see if someone needs help.
The law does allow people to leave the scene of an accident to get emergency assistance as long as they return to the scene right away.
Hit and run accidents are serious
Hit and run car accidents are serious business and the state of California treats them as such. There can be both misdemeanor or felony hit and run cases, and the classification depends on whether a person was injured in the accident or not.
The criminal penalties for felony hit and run accidents are very severe in California. Hit and run drivers can face up to three years in jail and fines of up to $10,000 if the accident is classified as a felony. The criminal penalties for a misdemeanor hit and run accident are also very serious, with a fine of up to $5,000 and up to a one-year jail sentence.
Administrative penalties for hit and run accidents
Hit and run accidents aren’t just subject to criminal penalties but also to administrative penalties. This means that a person convicted of a hit and run can face jail time, fines, and driver’s license restrictions. In some states, a hit and run accident of any kind will lead to an automatic driver’s license suspension for at least six months, with other states suspending licenses for up to three years.
The California DMV uses a point system to keep track of driving records and necessary suspensions. In California, if you’re convicted of a hit and run you automatically get two points added to your driving record. You can be labeled a “negligent driver” and have your license revoked or suspended if you have four or more points in a 12-month period, 6 or more points in 24 months, and 8 or more points in 36 months.
If you caused a hit and run auto accident it is also very possible for you to face civil penalties. Your car insurance will most likely raise your monthly premium as you will be considered a more dangerous driver. Also, any other person involved in the accident can sue you for damages in a civil case.
While civil cases can happen even if the car accident wasn’t a hit and run, the damages for hit and run accidents are almost always bigger than standard car accident damages. In many states, the court will impose triple damages onto the defendant as a way of punishing the bad behavior of a hit and run. For example, if a court was to award a plaintiff $10,000 in damages for a standard accident it could bump that award up to $30,000 for a hit and run.
You need help
If you were involved in a hit and run car accident, whether you were hit by another driver or caused the accident, you need help. Hit and run accidents are very serious and therefore require serious legal assistance.
Ellis Injury Law has a stellar reputation for relentless representation and expert personal injury law advice. A car accident lawyer from our team is ready and waiting to help you through this difficult time. Call us today for a free consultation.